How To Grow As An Authentic Leader By Overcoming The Trouble With Titles

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If you rely on your title to establish your influence, you can be in for big trouble in your leadership. Because your title can actually work against your efforts to be an authentic leader.

The reality is, often having an impressive title can diminish your ability to lead effectively.

Here are 3 occasions when you can run smack into the middle of the trouble with titles…

1. When you want to know what’s really going on

“So team…how’s everything going in this department?”

“Top drawer, boss! Couldn’t be better!”

Your impressive sounding title can be your greatest hindrance when you really want to know what’s happening in your organization. Because you might want to have everyone see you as just “Sue” or “Bob”, but very often, your title will completely overshadow the informality of your name.

2. When you genuinely want honest feedback

“Hey team, what do you think of my new idea?”

“Great boss!”

“Ya boss; really great!”

“Greatest idea ever, boss!”

Such exchanges are not too far off the truth, when you have an impressive title. Finding out if your latest idea has genuine merit can be tough if your team can’t see past your title.

3. When you want to speed up the information flow

“Hey, do you have those quarterly figures for me?”

“Just need a bit more time boss…Gotta double check my figures…Then triple check them…Then check them again…”

Nothing will grind the flow of information down to a halt quite like a team member worried about making a mistake in front of someone with an impressive title.

How to overcome the trouble with titles…

You can minimize the trouble with titles with these reminders:

Never introduce yourself using your title

Opening with, “Hi, I’m Mr. Johnson, the new Senior Vice President in charge of Sales, Acquisitions and Mergers” will never get you to authenticity.

Get to know the team outside the workplace

Show up at the team picnic. Show up at the team softball game. Show up at the Christmas party. Just show up.

Establish the ground rules of authenticity

Make it clear at the outset that the environment is safe for candor. And mean it.

Achieving an impressive title can feel great for a moment. But remember, the trouble with titles is often creeping just around the corner. So learn to recognize these troubles and be prepared to overcome them.

And get down to the important work of authentic leadership.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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